Photo Credit: Jerusalem Burial Society

Is it proper to buy a grave when one is still alive?

It is more than just “proper,” it is considered meritorious! Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch shlita wrote that it is a wonderful source of protection to purchase a grave that will be his own property. It is also stated that purchasing a grave during one’s lifetime is a segulah (remedy) for long life.


Why should I consider burial in Israel?

Being buried in the Land of Israel has been an aspiration for Jews from time immemorial. The connection between Jews and the Holy Land is very strong. People who did not merit to live there still had a deep desire to be buried there, as evidenced by the custom to include in graves a small package of soil from Israel.

The issue is more than just sentimentalism. Our forefather Yaakov and his son Yosef both commanded their descendants to ensure that their remains would not remain in Egypt, but would be buried in the Holy Land. We also learn in the Gemara that the Sage Ula was brought to the Land of Israel for burial, even though he had died in Babylonia.

The supreme advantage of burial in the Land of Israel are mentioned throughout the Gemara and other ancient works. In the time of the Techiyat Hameitim, those buried in the Holy Land will be the first to come back to life, and will also be spared the suffering of gilgul mechilot. It’s written in the Talmud that one who is buried in the Holy Land is considered as if he were buried under the Altar. In another place it’s written that if a person’s remains are brought to the Land for burial, the earth itself brings them atonement.

But we’ve had people come to us with more practical reasons. One man, who bought a grave for himself and his wife, remarked that this way, he knows that his children will come to Israel at least once a year, for their yahrzeit. There are also families where the children have already made Aliyah, but the parents stayed behind for various reasons. They certainly have no reason to want to be buried anywhere other than in Israel!

Isn’t burial in Israel, not to mention Jerusalem, prohibitively expensive?

It’s true that at one time, only the very rich could afford to have their remains taken to the land of Israel for burial. But in today’s era of improved travel and technology, it is more affordable than ever before. We at the Jerusalem Burial Society have various options to suit different needs and budgets.

Can you tell me a little about the Jerusalem Burial Society?

As the largest burial society in Jerusalem and the second-largest in all of Israel, we deal with the majority of burials in the Holy City. The Jerusalem Burial Society was founded 80 years ago by a group of rabbis and other prominent public figures. Today, our staff is available 24/6 to assist mourners during their most difficult time, with sensitivity, caring and empathy. Most importantly, we take families’ individual desires and needs into consideration while remaining within the parameters of Jewish law.

What are the options for burial on Har Hamenuchot?

We have graves under the open sky, in the ground in multi-level buildings, and now, in a pioneering underground facility, built with cutting-edge technology. This project, called the Hallowed Halls of Eternal Life (Minharot Olam), is the first of its kind in the world, and allows for dignified burial in accordance with the strictest standards of Jewish law.

This marvel of modern engineering is fully accessible by elevators and golf carts. Closed-circuit cameras, 24-hour security, and an intercom system allow for peace of mind. WiFi and cell phone reception are available throughout the complex. Innovative thermostat technology maintains an even temperature of 72 degrees F year-round, so that funerals and memorial services can be held without concern for rain, heat or inclement weather.

What do the rabbis say about this new type of burial in the underground halls?

Israel’s Chief Rabbis are all for it, saying that it is the perfect solution to the lack of space that we experience here in Israel. In fact, Rabbi Osher Weiss shlita and Rabbi Shlomo Amar shlita, were on a recent visit to see the new complex and both were impressed by the halachic hiddur.

Look, for all the technological innovation, this underground cemetery is actually the revival of an ancient tradition. Think of it, the first burial mentioned in the Torah was in the Cave of Machpeilah, just like we’re doing now.



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